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What Is an Ileostomy?

Updated on February 26, 2015

What exactly is an ileostomy?
An ileostomy is an opening made in the abdomen wall that is created during surgery, where a part of the small intestine is brought to the surface of the abdomen. The part that is seen on the surface is called a stoma.

When does one need an ileostomy?
Often, due to some stomach cancers, colon health issues, and sometimes because of Irritable Bowel Syndrom (including crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis), the intestines become damaged, inflamed, or even perforated and this must be done as a last resort. It is often done on an emergency basis, but can also be planned if damage is severe.

Is an ileostomy permanent?
Ileostomies can be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the situation. In some cases, where a large portion of the bowel becomes diseased, ileostomies are permanent. In other cases, some of the damaged portion of the bowel is removed and a temporary ileostomy is created while the bowel rests so that it can heal. Keeping the bowel empty with an ileostomy will assist this process. In some cases, it is unknown whether or not an ileostomy may be reversed. It depends on personal patient health and wellness.

What can I expect from an ileostomy?
A person with an ileostomy will pass waste through the stoma on his/her abdomen. It will be pink-red in color and will be swollen after initial surgery. The person can not control when mucus will be secreted. A pouch is placed over the stoma to collect the waste and it will have to be drained periodically. The pouch will stick to the area of the abdomen over the stoma and will need to be replaced once or twice a week (depending on which pouch you choose).


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      Daniel 2 years ago

      Basically things not on the list. With ilioetomses it is a very individual thing, which is frustrating as a person with the ileostomy, as well as carers & loved ones. Keeping a food and symptom diary will help to identify the foods that are best. Most people find that they can eventually eat most anything, once the swelling has subsided and everything settles down internally. Chewing well and taking time to eat is often a big help.